Sunday, 6 March 2011

Do Old Testament laws still count?

So often when you quote an inconvenient part of the Old Testament to a christian, they will tell you that it has been replaced by the teachings of Jesus and that Jesus came as saviour for us all etc.

If the OT really has been superseded then surely the ten commandments are also superseded, and the evidence suggests that this is not at all what they want. That is not to say that the 10 commandments have much to do with today's laws or morality when looked at critically. More of that another day soon - a post on that topic is at the planning stage.

Why is the Old Testament still there in the bible? Because it foretold the coming of Christ. (Or maybe the whole Jesus story was built up to fulfill the prophecies. More on that another day perhaps.)

So, how do we know that this is true that the OT has been superseded? Is it true that its inconvenient laws no longer apply? Maybe it is in the words of Jesus himself. Let's look at the book of Matthew.

5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. [So the context is OK then? If in doubt you can look it up yourself. It is just after the bit about everyone being 'Blessed' that was mocked so well in Monty Python's 'Life of Brian'.]

5:18 For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [Not much doubt then. Not one jot to be changed. Presumably this applies to all the 613 commandments in the Torah, which are represented in the Jewish 'Halacha'. Incidentally what is a tittle? See tomorrow for the answer.  Here's a link added later!]

5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Note to self! Must remember not to boil any goat kids in their own mother's milk then. (This is the tenth commandment if you read the version in Ex. 34:26 and you can also find it in Deut. 14:21)


adamryan said...

"If the OT really has been superseded then surely the ten commandments are also superseded..."

There were two sets of laws, though: God's laws and Moses' laws. Moses' were the temporary, ceremonial laws you'll find in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. They regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed the cross.

This law was added "till the seed should come," and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16, 19). The ritual and ceremony of Moses' law pointed forward to Christ's sacrifice.

When He died, this law came to an end, but the Ten Commandments (God's law) "stand fast for ever and ever." Psalms 111:8.

That there are two laws is made crystal clear in Daniel 9:10, 11.

God's law has existed at least as long as sin has existed. The Bible says, "Where no law is, there is no transgression [or sin]." Romans 4:15. So God's Ten Commandment law existed from the beginning. Men broke that law (sinned--1 John 3:4). Because of sin (or breaking God's law), Moses' law was given (or "added"--Galatians 3:16, 19) till Christ should come and die. Two separate laws are involved: God's law and Moses' law.

Some proof:


Called "the law of Moses" (Luke 2:22).
Called "law...contained in ordinances" (Ephesians 2:15).
Written by Moses in a book (2 Chronicles 35:12).
Placed IN THE SIDE of the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:26).
Ended at the cross (Ephesians 2:15).
Added because of sin (Galatians 3:19).
Contrary to us, against us (Colossians 2:14).
Judges no one (Colossians 2:14-16).
Carnal (Hebrews 7:16).
Made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19).

God's Laws:

Called "the law of the Lord" (Isaiah 5:24).
Called "the royal law" (James 2:8).
Written by God on stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:16).
Placed INSIDE the ark of the covenant (Exodus 40:20).
Will stand forever (Luke 16:17).
Points out sin (Romans 7:7; 3:20).
Not grievous (1 John 5:3).
Judges all people (James 2:10-12).
Spiritual (Romans 7:14).
Perfect (Psalms 19:7).

Any Bible study would have cleared this up for you, making me question whether the author truly didn't know this, or was just posting things to be confrontational.

Plasma Engineer said...

Even the briefest consideration (not even study) of the process of logical thinking would suggest that cutting and pasting text from into a comment does not count as proof. All this effort goes into you pedalling a story that is riddled with inconsistency and obfuscation, and yet you suggest that somehow I'm the one who is being confrontational. If I don't believe that the bible is the inspired word of god then all the arguments from its texts are simply meaningless to me and by no means are they 'proof' of anything other than a delusion.

Christians tend to quote bible passages at anyone who questions their thinking, and to be honest this simply doesn't cut the mustard. The only evidence you have that the bible is true is . . . well . . . that the bible says it is true. As Richard Dawkins has said "I don't need to understand the niceties of the study of fairies to know that I don't believe in fairies".

Don't you see the logical flaws in the argument from Galatians? "Till the seed should come" indeed? For a start this could mean anything. Second - the whole point of my post was that Jesus himself said that not one jot or tittle of the law would change. He didn't distinguish between 'God's law' and 'Moses' law' and anyway that is simply a distraction. Surely whatever Paul said later ought to have less authority to you than what Jesus said? And third - its a bit late for it to be revealed that god (or god via Moses?) didn't really mean the law that way after all. Paul was issuing another new version - effectively the third version indeed - as someone who never even met Jesus and only knew about him from anecdote.

Paul has a rather surprisingly special place in the New Testament doesn't he? It almost seems surprising that Christianity is not called Paulinity. Paul's words could be argued to have affected the world much more that those of Jesus.

So although your comment will have convinced any christian readers totally, it suffers from several logical fallacies that would be spotted quickly by most skeptics. Its use of 'proof by verbosity' about the apparent meaning of the term 'law' in the bible relies on 'quote mining' or 'observational selection', followed by quoting the selected scriptures at us. You use the 'appeal to authority' to tell us what we should believe, simply because the bible says so. This bible is full of 'anecdotal evidence and supressed half truths' so it does not count as a source of any authority.

My question stands. Do the OT laws still count?

Plasma Engineer said...

p.s. don't forget Matthew 5:17 to 20. In order to get to heaven you have to be more righteous than the Pharisees (who observed the 613 laws of the Mitzvot rather carefully). Or was Jesus really wrong as Paul explained? Or maybe the bible is not accurately representing what it really means?

justathought said...

"Christians tend to quote bible passages at anyone who questions their thinking, and to be honest this simply doesn't cut the mustard. "

Why is it OK then when skeptics quote Dawkins at anyone who values faith above proof? ;) Sorry - had to yank your chain a bit. You raise very valid points and it's worth considering, whether you're Christian or not.

For me personally, it's summed up in these two passages:

"Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters." Romans 14:1.

"If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9.

RosaRubicondior said...


Which quote by Dawkins do "skeptics quote at anyone who values faith above proof", please? And in what sense of the word do they offer it as proof of anything?

I generally find arguments more convincing if they are substantiated rather than just asserted in the hope that people won't question the assertion.

RosaRubicondior said...


A tittle is half a jot (or is it the other way round?) :-)

Plasma Engineer said...

Thanks Rosa - just realised that I never went back and added the link to the post called 'Tittle'. I have done it now.

Anonymous said...

"There were two sets of laws, though: God's laws and Moses' laws."

This is not correct. When the NT references the "law and the prophets" it is referencing the Hebrew scriptures to that date. These scriptures consisted of "the law" aka Torah or Pentatuch (the first five books attributed to Moses), the Prophets, (Ketuviim) the writings of the "former" and "latter" prophets, and the "Writings" (Ketuviim).

Thus, when referencing the "law" in "the law and the prophets", the text is referencing the entirety of Hebraic law. Therefore, according to the text, Jesus claims to not change one jot or tittle of the *entirety* of Hebraic law.

This is New Testament 101 stuff.

Kenny Wyland said...

It's difficult for me to understand how anyone can read Exodus chapter 32 and think this story is inspired by the God referenced within it.

- The Israelites get Aaron to make them a golden calf.
- Yahweh says to Moses, "Those assholes made a golden calf, I'm going to kill some of them."
- Moses talks Yahweh out of it.
- Moses goes down the mountain and sees they've made a golden calf and shatters the stone tablets.
- Moses gets pissed and says that Yahweh has said to slaughter the idolators. He and the Levites kill about 3000 Israelites.

Really? Yahweh said to slaughter the idolators? Didn't Yahweh say HE was going to smite them all and Moses talked him out of it? Talked him out of it just so Moses and the Levites could slaughter them with swords? How does this make ANY sense?

Plasma Engineer said...

Are there any chapters that you find to make perfect sense? :)

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing portrait of a God who in His sovereignty shows mercy...check out how many people died in the acount of David's disobedience in counting the Israelites - 2 Sam 24v15...what man must get is that God is utterly sovereign - that's why He is God, not some piece of wood or the gods of the Romans, Egyptians - man's imaginative idea idea of what a god is...

Anonymous said...

NO...not literally...we won't and can't go to hell for not observing them - that's if you have confessed Jesus, son of God and man as saviour. However, there is madness in the method of the countless of laws that goeverned His people - all of which was to give them life, health and wealth and growth. Thank God for grace in Christ...where Jesus took upon himself that which he knew (and God, the Father) we, in our disobedience and human form could not do! It ALL points to the person of Jesus - the Law (fullfilled in the coming of Christ).

Anonymous said...

Jesus IS our righteousness - end of story! That is what He was saying to his people. We didn't need the Law to justify us - we needed Christ. We could no longer obtain righteousness through the law - IMPOSSIBLE. Jesus had become our High Priest...He atoned for our sins and sins to come.

Anonymous said...

Well, that is scripture - right there(-:

Plasma Engineer said...

Have you noticed that all the vapour-ware comments are not only pseudonymious, but actually anonymous?

Plasma Engineer said...

Dawkins tends to ask questions whereas the (bronze age) scriptures tend to give (implausible) answers.

And your next question is....?

Plasma Engineer said...

And your objective evidence is available . . . somewhere . . . no doubt!

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to try to convince you of my faith, which is Christian, but i do think that a lot of people who criticize any religion fail to remember that faith is a huge part of it. I can't scientifically justify my religion to you because when it comes right down to it, i believe because i have faith that the Bible is true. Throughout all of its laws, stories, ideas, and (in some cases) apparent discrepancies, it still provides millions of people with hope every day and the belief that someone out there cares for them.

Why take that away from people? Now i know that a lot of Bible Thumpers try to cram it into your heads because they think they know better, but there are some people out there who share their faith because they care about you.

According to our belief, if you do not accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you go to hell. That's the simple straight to the point gist of it. So if you believed that someone you knew or loved was going to spend eternity in Hell, wouldn't you try and keep that from happening?

ethereal said...


except there is no hell in the original bible anywhere. Hades, Tartarus, gehenna in the original NT which are greek deities and personifications of place the greeks believed to exist beneath the earth. Gehenna is the valley of gehinnom a place on earth. The original OT says sheol in place of Hell, which means the grave. someone should study a bible concordance mr. anonymous above. Plus study etymology, the word hell didn't exist until centuries later in europe.